a few nights in napier
Over the summer holidays, we stayed in Napier for a couple of nights on the way to and from Gisborne. Napier is known for its art deco buildings, particularly the annual Art Deco festival when the city is flooded with people in flapper costumes, vintage cars, and ragtime music. It's true that the city is full of beautiful buildings, like a mini Miami. What surprised me however, was how it did such a good job between feeling like a cosmopolitan centre while retaining the heart of a small family-friendly town. For every strong long black and inventive bistro, there was a playground or a splashpad plus ice cream parlour displaying a wall of vintage ice cream scoops (Lick This!). Here are my recommendations to help you make the most of a few nights in the city.
Eat and Drink
Georgia on Tennyson - Strong coffee (as good as in Wellington!) and flaky buttery pastries
Frying Dutchman - Fish and chips and mushy peas!
F.G. Smith - Great for brunch. Family friendly and you can pop down the road to pose in front of the beautiful art deco frippery of a building that is the National Tobacco Company. So good we went back twice.
Bistronomy - On New Years Eve, we managed to sneak into an outdoor table and enjoy a fancy three course meal at Bistronomy. They brought out the high chair for Aro and he dined like a little prince.
Taste of Summer - the most delicious fruit and veg and real fruit ice creams as big as your face
Te Awanga Estate - we swilled delicious Rod McDonald wines here and munched on pizzas. They also have picnic blankets which you can spread out on the lawn amongst the vines and tress. Laidback, warm, casual, not precious!
Church Road Winery - Not my favourite wine but they have picnic blankets and the biggest, most delicious platters to eat out on the huge lawn. Life with a baby has given me a newfound appreciation for picnicking.
See and Buy
Blackbird Goods - I touched everything in here! Teeny tiny Curio Noir perfumes, shiny haircombs made out of animal horn, gobsmackingly expensive linen kimonos and straw house slippers. Everything is wabi-sabi and I went home with a beeswax candle shaped like an acorn which, of course, I will never ever light.
Arts on Parade - I have a soft spot for old lady shops. You know the kind? Slightly dusty, cluttered with random knick knacks, kitschy button badges and souvenir art prints. This one was good for a poke around and also gives you the opportunity to have a look inside one of the Six Sisters (six wooden turn-of-the-century villas which survived a huge earthquake). It also had a big range of woodturned New Zealand products which is very *now* (see A Walk in the Park). I bought Aro some spinning tops made out of offcuts.
Te Mata Peak - We drove the car up Te Mata Peak and chatted to the hang gliders who were setting up to launch (do hanggliders launch? IDK). The view was majestic and not one for people afraid of heights. You can also spot fossilised seashells on the ground which still blows my mind. There aren't many facilities up there so be prepared.
Marine Parade - Perfect for long pram strolls. There was so much to look at - fountains! ponds! sunken gardens! outdoor gym! statues! a skate park! splash pad! a fenced off kid's bike circuit where they can learn the road rules (I'm not joking - that's what the sign said)! barbecues! Honestly, they've really put all the bells and whistles along there. Don't forget to take a picture with Te Pania.
Bluff Hill Lookout - Another gorgeous view; this time towards the port. There's the sweetest little English country garden and a little reserve for picnics.
Waipatiki Beach - We weren't too impressed by the beaches around Napier CBD so we went on a day trip over the hill to Waipatiki Beach. There's no internet, shops, or many facilities but the beach is bliss. For the thrillseekers, there's a pounding surf that's patrolled by lifeguards during summer. On the other, there's a freshwater stream which is great for little ones. There's also a cliffside walk. Bring an umbrella or a pop up tent because there isn't any shade.
Scenic Hotel Te Pania - Highly recommended for a night or two. Central, great views, room service, carparks, and cots are available.
Vista Marine (via Bachcare) - Lots of room for three adults and a baby. Keep in mind there's a lot of stairs to get to the apartment and also stairs to the bedroom. If you have a baby that's on the move, you may not feel like it's the safest choice. We had to bring our own travel cot. The place was central, sunny, well-kitted out, and great views.